I just love being a Search Marketer. It must be the thrill of getting a new site ranked, maintaining rank and increasing traffic from search that keeps me on the edge of my seat each day. I also like the challenge of finding out why a site isn't ranking, fixing the issue then seeing it get re-indexed and generating leads and/or revenue for the business.
I've been doing search for over 10 years and will be sharing some of my stories with the audience at my upcoming presentations at Cloudforce Essentials Brisbane (24th Oct 2012) and Cloudforce Essentials Melbourne (1st Nov 2012).
It is a challenging field to work in as it's an ever-changing landscape with all of Google's countless algorithm updates. Due to the very nature of Google's mysterious algorithm, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) has a reputation of being a 'dark art' or like some kind of black magic full of trickery used to help websites rank higher. But even when you find a way to trick Google into giving you high rankings, they are right behind you with an spam filter update that sends your site tumbling down the search results, or worst case, wipes you out of the index. In fact, over the last 20 months, Google has release 20 updates to it's algorithm named after cute animals: Penguins and Pandas. Here is a great list of all the most recent 20 Google Panda updates by Barry Schwartz (@RustyBrick).
Anyways I don't mean to scare folks, I've been doing search quite a while and have learnt some tips that I'm going to share at the Cloudforce events that will not get you kicked out of the search engines. I'll also showcase some of the best free SEO tools that I use everyday to help me do my job as an SEO professional.
For those who don't know the difference, SEM, which stands for Search Engine Marketing or also commonly referred to as Paid Search or Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising is where to buy your position on Googles search results. It's how Google makes there money. SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimisation, and often referred to as Organic Search or Natural Search is work done to a website to help it appear more relevant to search queries but the ranking cannot be bought. Below is a slide to help illustrate the different areas in the Search Engine Results PageS (often referred to by SEO professionals as the SERPS):
This blog post is be focused on SEO (where you don't pay Google for listings). If you want to learn more about Paid Search (SEM) please check out my other post How to optimise Paid Search using CRM data.
In this post I am going to spill the beans on my SEO Success Framework which consists of 5 main areas. Each of these are described in more detail in my Cloudforce Essentials Presentation (scroll to the bottom to view the slides), but here's a summary:
I can't stress enough the importance of this first piece of my SEO framework. It's the foundation to doing ant SEO effort. If you do not have Web Analytics in place how are you going to measure whether you effort is delivering any results.
Here are some important SEO metrics you should be measuring:
There is no excuse for not having web analytics in place as Google Analytics is free. If you haven't tagged you site to use an analytics tool yet, then my tip for you would be to implement Google's new Tag Manager as it will save you a lot time and pain later down the track when you want to instrument conversion tracking tags, retargeting tags and other tags.
Choosing the right keywords is what will lead you to SEO success. Knowing what keywords your customers are typing into Google to solve their pains and frustrations is crucial. This is really the starting point to an SEO strategy as you can then build content around what your customers need and work these keywords into the content.
There are many free Keyword Tools out there. The ones I talk about in my presentation is Google Trends and Google Adwords Keyword Tool.
There are many websites that don't get the traffic they deserve, not because the content is rubbish, but due to technical issues that web site owners may not be aware of. There are many CMSs (Content Management Systems) that use non-standard linking methods that make it difficult for search engine spiders to follow the links and discover more content on the site.
I shared with the audience a quick an easy way to check how many pages of any website is in Google of Bing's Index using the "site:" search operator (see below)
There no point plagiarising content and no point paying someone to write 100s of page of rubbish. These can affect your rankings negatively. This part of my framework focuses on the importance of Meta Tags and provides some tips on how to find content or topic that your customers are going to be interested in. I also provide a great example on why you should avoid full flash-based (Adobe Flash) websites as Google has difficulties crawling and indexing sites. Another thing to note it that a full flash-based site won't work on an iPad.
I've used the term "Connections" instead of links for this part of my framework, because Google is taking into considering links to your pages but also the 'Social Connections' to your content (E.g. how many people share your pages etc.). Links are still very important and I provide a nice "Click Here" story that illustrates the power of Anchor Text (keywords used in links). In my presentation I reveal an excellent free tool that you see the number of backlinks to any site on the internet. You can use the tool to compare your site with your competitors side-by-side, the tools is called Open Site Explorer by SEOmoz.